Iceland horseback riding is an experience unlike any other. Not only is it the best way to truly immerse yourself in the extraordinary landscape and contrasting terrain of the Land of Fire and Ice, but you’ll also be doing it on the back of our own breed of horse!
If you have an upcoming trip to the island, and you’re busy planning your trip itinerary, or you’re an animal lover, this article is a must-read. We tell you everything about the Icelandic Horses, as well as where the go-to spots on the island are when it comes to these Iceland pony rides.
The Icelandic Horse
As we already mentioned, riding horses in Iceland is different from anywhere else in the world, and it’s not just because of our incredible landscape. We have our own breed of horse here on the island, called the Icelandic Horse, and these unique creatures should definitely not be judged by their unimaginative name.
The Icelandic Horses look more like ponies even when fully grown, and they have an incredibly friendly and loving nature. These horses can also perform an extra gait called the tölt which is believed to be so smooth since the horse has one hoof on the ground at all times, that it has inspired a local challenge called the beer tölt.
During a beer tölt, the rider is given a pint of beer and dared to perform the tölt without spilling a drop. Another fun characteristic of the Icelandic Horses can be seen if you come to Iceland and go horseback riding in the winter.
During the colder months on the island, the horses have thick, fluffy coats to protect themselves against the freezing temperatures and harsh weather elements. Needless to say, an extremely friendly horse that looks like a pony with a thick, fluffy coat is the ultimate cuteness overload.
The Best Time for Horseback Riding in Iceland
You can go on Iceland horseback riding vacations all year round, but as an outdoor activity, there are a few things to consider:
- Because of the cold (especially in the northern regions of the country), many prefer to go on Icelandic horse tours during the warmer months, especially the summer months (June to September). This is also the reason why some horse riding tours will then only be open on certain days or certain times, or even close completely during the colder months here on the island.
- Just keep in mind that booking is absolutely essential if you are planning on horseback riding in Iceland during the summer season since this is considered peak season here on the island.
- Going horseback riding in Iceland is the best way to take the road less traveled. During the colder months on the island, it’s sometimes the only way to explore certain parts of the country since roads may be closed. Just keep in mind that the same reasons why the roads are closed can impact your riding. Whilst icy patches on the road or some snow shouldn’t interfere too much with your horseback exploring an active blizzard or 30+ kilometer an hour winds definitely will.
- Irrespective of seasons, we have a local saying that says, “you can experience all four seasons in one day in Iceland”. That’s why you’ll always need to keep an eye on the Iceland weather forecast, especially before heading out on any outdoor adventure here on the island.
Must-visit Places for the Best Horseback Riding in Iceland
Horseback riding can be done all across the island, but the following spots and tours stand out and come highly recommended:
Reykjavik Horseback Riding
Most people who visit the island end up in Reykjavik at one point or another. That’s because the capital city is usually the first stop after landing at Keflavik Airport. Those who have very limited time on the island also tend to stick to the city borders and venture out on day trips. All of the above makes horseback riding in Reykjavik and its surroundings incredibly easy and convenient. If sticking to Reykjavik is the route you’ll be taking during your trip, you should try the following horseback riding tours:
Horseback Riding in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
The Snaefellsness Peninsula’s claim to fame is spectacular and contrasting terrain. When exploring Snaefellsness on horseback, you will be crossing rivers, and lava fields, traversing valleys, and enjoying breathtaking views of the glacier and coastline. If this sounds like something right up your alley, you should give the following horseback riding tours a try:
- Stori Kambur Riding Tours
- Horseback Riding Tour at Beach in Snaefellsnes
- Horseback Riding in Snaefellsnes
Horseback Riding Along the Golden Circle in Iceland
The Golden Circle is a popular road trip route here on the island and is why many opt to have horseback riding as part of their road trip itinerary. If you’re thinking of stopping along the way for your Iceland horseback riding experience, we suggest the following:
Horseback Riding on a Black Sand Beach in Iceland
Our black sand beaches are probably one of our most famous (and favorite) results of being the Land of Fire and Ice. Who wouldn’t want to take a gallop on the remnants of thousands of year-old eruptions, and hear the crunching of lava-turned-sand underneath an Icelandic Horse’s hoove? If riding on kilometers of outstretched black sand beach sounds like a must-do to you, we suggest contacting the following horseriding tour operators:
- Black Beach Horseback Riding Tour
- Black Beach Special Horse Riding Tour
- Black Sand Beach Horse Riding Tour from Vik
Horseback Riding in Vik in Iceland
When it comes to the small town of Vik, most will conjure up visions of the surrounding black sand beaches. But the area around the picturesque town is truly mesmerizing, since it lies in the shadow of the Myrdalsjökull Glacier and has magnificent mountain views whilst traversing beautiful meadows. So, if you ever find yourself in Vik and want to explore the area on horseback, give these guys a go:
Horseback Riding in Akureyri in Iceland
The north in Iceland is usually synonymous with whale watching and, well, the cold, but you’ll also find plenty of horseback riding opportunities around Akureyri (the so-called capital city of the north). Because of the region’s remoteness, you’ll truly get to experience the Icelandic “wilderness” at its best and truly take on the “road less traveled”. If you want to add horseback riding to your to-do list whilst in Akureyri, the following horseback tour operators come highly recommended:
Iceland Horseback Riding; a Unique Experience on a Unique Horse
Traversing the unique terrain in the Land of Fire and Ice on the back of an Icelandic Horse is probably one of the most unique experiences you’ll ever have in your life, and will definitely create incredibly precious lifelong memories. So, whether you’ll be adding horseback riding to your Golden Circle road trip itinerary, or adding it as a day outing, just rent a car in Reykjavik and head out for the ride of your life.